How to trim Crepe Myrtles
February is the perfect time to trim your crepe myrtles, but is it being done correctly? Often times we go to speak with new clients and discover that the previous landscaper trimmed the crepe myrtles incorrectly. Why would a professional do that? While some don't know the proper way to trim, most do it because it is more money in their pocket. I once heard a landscaper say that they knew they were trimming the crepe myrtles wrong, but knew that causing harm to the tree would result in more work which meant more money.
What is the first problem with crepe myrtles?
A crepe myrtle is a tree, not a bush. Do you trim your oaks or maples off at the trunk every year? No, so why would you do it to a crepe myrtle. With that being said there are dwarf crepe myrtle bushes that will stay between 3 to 5 feet. They are beautiful and would be perfect if your looking for a smaller crepe myrtle. If you say your crepe myrtle gets to big, the wrong kind of crepe myrtle was planted. There are many kinds of crepe myrtles. A few of the most popular crepe myrtle are Natchez, Miami, Sioux, Dynamite, Muskogee, and Watermelon Red. These crepe myrtles will grow at least 25-30 feet tall and need to be planted out in your yard. You don't want these crepe myrtles next to a door or window. If you would like a few next to your house it would be better to have a lower growing kind. They have some that only get as tall as 3 feet while other kinds can be 10-15 ft. Finding the right kind of crepe myrtle is essential so you don't commit "crepe murder."
What is crepe murder?
Crepe murder is done every year and is a pet peeve of our company. We hate seeing crepe murder happen in our area. Crepe murder is the improper trimming of crepe myrtles. You often see people take a chain saw and trim the trunk of the tree. This creates ugly knuckles that will result it sucker limbs developing. While crepe murder is irreversible, you can normally save a crepe myrtle and return the tree to beauty. This often takes 3 to 5 years to correct one trimming that was done incorrectly. Although if a crepe myrtle is murdered year after year we have had to remove dead or dying crepe myrtles and completely replace them.
When should you trim crepe myrtles?
Late January to the end of February is the perfect time to trim crepe myrtles. All the blooms are gone and no new blooms are starting so you can easily see all the branches on the tree. If you trim while the tree is blooming it can be hard to see the branches and makes it difficult to see what branches you should be trimming. It will also hurt the tree causing less blooms that year. If you prune your crepe myrtle now it will also promote new growth and promote more blooms in the spring.
How should you trim a crepe myrtle?
If your landscaper is planning on using a chain saw or electric hedge trimmers stop them right now. Those tools should never be used on a crepe myrtle. Start with a good pair of loppers and hand pruners. Any branches 4 feet or below on the main tree trunk should be trimmed off. Any sucker limps coming out of the base of the crepe myrtle should be trimmed off. Within the branches trim any branches that are growing down, inwards, crossing, and dead. If your crepe myrtle still needs to be trimmed you can trim a few of the bigger branches back, but do not trim any branch bigger than your pinkie.
We would be happy to help you trim your crepe myrtles today. Simply call the office at 864.275.2039 or fill out the form below and we would be happy to schedule a crepe myrtle trimming for you today.
By: Ashley Haynes
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